Atlantic Canadian companies are among the 100 winners of the Blueprint: Backing BIPOC Businesses awards, run by the DMZ, an award-winning startup incubator at Toronto’s Ryerson University, and funded by American Express.

The 15-week program offers participants intensive mentorship and coaching and $10,000 in grant money.

Blueprint is a response to barriers faced by BIPOC business owners. According to a survey of small business owners commissioned by Amex earlier this year, BIPOC entrepreneurs cited a lack of access to mentorship and financing at a rate higher than their white counterparts.

Additionally, close to half of BIPOC entrepreneurs reported that they lacked mentors to help solve business challenges, compared to just 32 per cent of white entrepreneurs.

“We’re eager to work closely with these entrepreneurs, and understand how Blueprint can have a positive, tangible impact on their businesses,” said Lisa Kalhans, President and CEO of American Express Canada.

Here are the Atlantic Canadian winners by province:

New Brunswick

Oluwatosin Ajibola, Welkom-U Inc.: Based in Fredericton, this one-stop shop is designed for international newcomers and helps address settlement needs and services online and via mobile app. 

Lily Lynch, Sankara: Sankara is an online multicultural marketplace for local communities to buy and sell cultural cuisines, grocery, arts and crafts. The social enterprise connects local cultural vendors such as cultural chefs, restaurants, grocery and artisans to community members. 

Jolene Johnson, Wabanaki Maple: Located in Tobique First Nation, Wabanaki Maple is an Indigenous and female-owned fresh maple syrup company. Inspired by traditional roots and culture, Wabanaki Maple offers premium barrel-aged maple syrup products to include flavours of Bourbon, Whiskey and Oak syrups. The company recently launched Bareroots Initiative to help promote and replenish forests in local areas.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Denise Goosney, Aguathuna Drafting and Consulting Company Ltd.: Female-owned and proud member of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and Qalipu First Nations, ADC (Aguathuna Drafting Consulting Company Ltd.) is a civil engineering design and construction company offering administrative services, site development, wastewater treatments. ADC is a leading 3D drone mapping and thermal imaging services company.

Ivan White, Abadak Wilderness Adventures: Join Abadak Wilderness Adventures on a cultural tour of the Mi’kmaq Indigenous community with local guides and experts. These guided tours are designed to showcase the distant past and resilience of Mi'kmaq habitation and the experiences of the Mi'kmaq people of Flat Bay.

Nova Scotia

Rene Boudreau, Elevate & Explore Black Nova Scotia Inc: Elevate & Explore is a travel business aimed at encouraging more Black travelers. With an in-depth look at Nova Scotia’s Black population and rich history that has shaped the province today, Elevate & Explore provides Black travelers with information and opportunities while supporting fellow Black-owned businesses.

Jessika Hepburn, The Biscuit Eater Cafe & Books: Known for its homemade and locally crafted baked goods, The Biscuit Eater Cafe & Books is great for both local community members and visitors led and staffed by People of Colour and the only Black-owned bookstore in the Atlantic Canada region.

Blueprint was developed in consultation with BIPOC-focused community and business organizations across Canada, including the Afro Caribbean Business Network, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism.